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Full text of "A history of Persia"

288                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
Khan, which even in decay must rank among the great
bridges of the world. Approached by a paved causeway,
it is entered through the usual gateway. The extraordinary
feature of the bridge, which is 388 yards in length, with
a paved roadway 30 feet wide, is that there are three
distinct thoroughfares, at three separate levels. One of
these is the roadway, on each side of which runs a covered
arcade, opening by arches into the main road on one side
and on to the river on the other. Here and there this
arcade, or gallery, leads past chambers that were originally
adorned with paintings. Above this main road, on the
summit of the bridge, is a footway reached by steps,
and below it a lower storey, to which similar steps
descend. Here, just above the river-bed, a passage runs
the entire length of the bridge. The only adverse
criticism to be made is one which will be appreciated
from the illustration, namely, that the bridge at most
seasons of the year is a structure too fine for the exiguous
stream of the Zenda Rud.
Tiles.—The practice of covering buildings with tiles
reached its zenith under the Safavi rulers, and this there-
fore is a convenient place for a few remarks on the
famous products of the Persian kilns. Ceramics certainly
played an important part in Achaemenian architecture, and
the Frieze of the Archers at Susa, mentioned in Chapter
XV., is a superb example of the tiles of the period. But
the art apparently disappeared, if, indeed, it was at that
time practised on the Iranian plateau, which is doubtful;
therefore for our present purpose the tiles of the
Achaemenian period may be disregarded.
In the first rank is the faience h reflet, or lustred tiles.
There is much doubt about the original home of these
products, of which the oldest dated pieces, bearing dates
A.D. 864-75, are stated to be in Tunis.1 In A.D. 1035
the celebrated Nasiri Khusru gives an interesting account
of lustre ware, which apparently did not at that period
exist m Iran : but, wherever the art came into being, it
is in Persia that it attained a beauty which stamps it for
all time as the noblest creation of the potter. What has
1 *7<fe«The Godman Collection" in the Connoiwr for September 1903.